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What Constitutes Assault and Battery in MA?

Assault and battery is considered a serious crime, both by the state of Massachusetts and elsewhere in the United States. To prove assault and battery beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must have committed an unwanted touching, the defendant intended to engage in the touching, the touching was harmful or offensive, and it was committed without justification or excuse. The penalty in Massachusetts for a conviction of assault and battery is a jail term of up to 2 ½ years in a House of Correction and/or imposition of monetary.

Sentences are increased and include state prison for use of dangerous weapon in connection with an assault and battery (ABDW), and can also be enhanced by either the circumstances of the offense or specific characteristic of the victim such as age (assault and battery person over 65) or infirmity (assault and battery on mentally handicapped).

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What is Aggravated Battery?

Aggravated battery (a felony) is defined by the nature, seriousness and/or permanent nature of injury caused, and indecent assault and battery, a felony that also allows for imposition of a state prison sentence, and is subject to sex offender registration, is a non-consensual sexual battery (touching) and divided by age (U 14; over 14). Domestic assault and battery requires proof of a live-in/domestic relationship and is usually accompanied by imposition of harsh abuse prevention/restraining orders, the violation of which can also result in jail time.

What are the Penalties for Assault and Battery?

In the state of Massachusetts, the penalties for assault and battery are up to 2 years in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, the following circumstances can lead to more severe penalties:

  • Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member
  • Assault and Battery on a Public Employee
  • Assault and Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
  • Assault and Battery on a Pregnant Woman
  • Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14
  • Assault and Battery on an Elderly or Disabled Person

Reckless Conduct

Assault and battery may also be alleged through reckless conduct in which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt two elements: the defendant’s actions caused physical or bodily injury to the victim and the actions amount to wanton and reckless conduct. Assault is essentially an uncompleted assault and battery and/or threat of a battery. It can also be charged as a felony if a dangerous or deadly weapon is involved (A/DW) and/or its penalty can be enhanced based on the circumstances of the crime or nature of the victim.

Assault and battery on a Public Employee (most frequently charged for batteries on police or fire personal) required proof beyond a reasonable doubt it was committed while the same was performing his or her official duties and carries a mandatory minimum 90 days jail sentence, upon conviction for the same in Massachusetts.

If you are accused of any of these crimes, it is essential you know your rights. It is also best to hire a lawyer who has years of experience in defending clients who are facing charges alleging any/all nature of charges alleging assaultive behavior and any variation, whether felony or misdemeanor, of assault and battery.

Intentional Assault and Battery

In order to prove a defendant guilty of assault and battery, The Commonwealth must convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  • First, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in a touching, however slight. This means that in this particular case, a jury must be satisfied that the Commonwealth proved applicable facts.
  • The second element the Commonwealth must prove is that the defendant intended to commit the touching. A jury may or may not infer the defendant’s intent by considering all of the facts and circumstances, as well as evidence of defendant’s conduct, offered during the trial.
  • The third element the Commonwealth must prove is that the touching was harmful or offensive. A harmful touching is a touching which is physically or potentially physically harmful. An offensive touching is an affront to a person’s integrity.
  • Fourth, the Commonwealth must prove that the battery was committed without justification or excuse. An example of justification is a physical examination by a doctor. An example of excuse is a situation where a person sees another in danger, reaches out, and while removing the other person from an oncoming vehicle, touches that person’s breast. In this case, the Commonwealth must prove the absence of justification or excuse beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • That a defendant committed a touching
    • That a defendant intended to engage in the touching
    • That the touching was harmful or offensive
    • Committed without justification or excuse.

Reckless Assault and Battery

There is a second way in which a person may be guilty of an assault and battery. Instead of intentional conduct, it involves reckless conduct that results in bodily injury. In order to prove a defendant guilty of having committed an assault and battery by reckless conduct, the Commonwealth must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Commonwealth v. Ma, indecent assault and battery case
  • Commonwealth v. Hallum, indecent assault and battery case
  • Commonwealth v. Turner, indecent assault and battery under 14 case
  • Com v. B., aggravated domestic battery
  • Com v. P.S, domestic battery
  • Com v. J. L., assault and battery on a public employee, A/DW
  • Com v D.S., AB/DW
  • Com v. A.S. , domestic battery
  • Com v. D.S., domestic battery
  • Com v. M., domestic assault
  • Com v. J.A., assault and battery
  • Com v. T.M., assault and battery
Actions that caused physical or bodily injury to the victim
The first element the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant engaged in actions that caused the victim physical or bodily injury. The Commonwealth must prove that the injury interfered with the alleged victim’s health or comfort. The injury need not be permanent, but must be more than transient and trifling. For example, an act that only shakes up a person or causes only momentary discomfort would be transient and trifling.
Actions amounted to wanton and reckless conduct.
The second element the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that a defendant’s actions were wanton and reckless. It is not enough for the Commonwealth to prove that a defendant acted negligently — that is, acted in a way that a reasonably careful person would not. It must be shown that a defendant’s actions went beyond mere negligence and amounted to recklessness. A defendant acted recklessly if they knew, or should have known, that the conduct involved would likely cause substantial harm to someone, but they ran that the risk rather than alter such conduct.

    Put 37+ Years' Experience on Your Case

    Brad Bailey, an assault and battery lawyer, has practiced on both sides of criminal law. He has been a felony prosecutor in Manhattan (where he prosecuted all types of felony assaults), a senior trial prosecutor in Middlesex County, where he prosecuted murders, sex crimes and serious drug cases, a County Sheriff, where he not only reviewed, refereed, and referred out for prosecution, detainee and inmate assaults, but also created alternative dispute/mediation programs and a federal prosecutor in Boston.

    As a violent crimes lawyer who has prosecuted and now defended virtually every conceivable assault/assault and battery/domestic violence charge imaginable, he understands the unique defense strategies needed for successfully handling these cases and infuses creativity, out-of-the box thinking, and zealous advocacy not just in the challenging and unique cases he routinely handles but for every client and in every case involving allegations of assaultive conduct.

    The following notable cases are just a few of the literally hundreds of related cases he has recently defended (and does not include the many clerk magistrate hearings in where he appeared and successfully avoided assault-related charges issuing against his clients):

    To ensure your best defense, contact Brad Bailey today for a consultation.

    Learn your defense options today when you contact Brad Bailey Law online or at (617) 500-0252.

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